Sunday, April 19, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

When I was a kid I had an electric typewriter. I was going to be a writer. I started each one of my first four novels with the same line: It was a dark and stormy night. I was Snoopy, on my house, with an imaginary Woodstock flying in circles around my head.

Then, much like now, I found the process of getting ready to write to be a big distraction in actually writing. I loathed having to change the sheet of paper, one for another. I wanted one long sheet of paper so I wouldn't have to stop. I wrote based on the title, which I always deliberated over for at least as long as it took to get the typewriter out and set up.

My stories then were of beautiful people doing beautiful things, being stunning and fabulous. I had no idea what I wanted, except that it should be excellent. I had no idea what excellent looked like, but I could describe the scent of the wind and the way it bends the new grass all day. Details, it seems, I've got.

When I get seriously stressed out, that's where I go. Into the details. I remember being somewhere once, where I really really really didn't want to be. But as things are often out of our control, I went into what was controllable: water running over my fingers. In a moment of sheer nail-scraping undesire I went into the water. I think that's when I started to pray, for real, for need, to assuage the fear. And this is the message I got then: this too shall pass.

And of course it did.

Today. Today is different. I have total control. Well more or less. I control what happens next. If I want to flake out, I can. Sometimes I do. If I want to get down and get to it, sometimes I do.

And that's where I start to watch myself, and wonder, "Shelby T., why do you do that to yourself?" I'm good at wishing. Really good. I've got a VERY active imagination. Very thorough imagination. Very detail oriented. I've also got a penchant for chasing what feels good. This makes me only proficient at taxes and excellent at fucking. Just saying.

Now, that chasing the good feeling... that comes back to this past Saturday's Torah reading, if you can believe that. Those poor G-d chasers Abihu and Nadab just wanted more of the estatic vision. Who could blame them? There was already tension: would the Shechinah appear and reside in what they had built? Moses and Aaron going in together, what's going on? Where's G-d? So in their great passion, they brought strange fire, breaking the rules, these priests. And what happened to them? The story goes that G-d zapped their souls, with a red beam through the nose, leaving their bodies and clothes intact. Some say they were drunk when they went in, breaking another rule stated nearby in the text. That's still chasing pleasure, and at the wrong time too.

Careful... careful with that motivation to feel good, to be at the pinnacle, the highest high. No one can live there, no human. There is a time and place. You may get lucky. You may see the face of G-d. You may feel ecstasy. Or you may have to keep working.

I watch myself, watching movies, not studying. I have watched myself put more in my mouth than I could stand, just for the sensation. I have put myself in emotional pretzels, just to feel passion.

I still want the story to be excellent. Still not sure what I want. But a little age makes the concept of planning quite desirable.

Careful, how fast you go around that curve. Yes, the ride is sensational. And then, there is the rest of life. Careful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I am mostly impatient. On a minute by minute basis, I am constantly jumping head. On a theorectical plane, I want results. On a tangible plane, I want explanations. I consider that I might have some sort of quantum-affliction that will only be diagnosed 1000 years from now that prevents me from being in just one place at one time.

Perhaps I'm just an obsessive multi-tasker. That surely comes to play in many spheres of life.

I want the ankle to heal. I want to ride my motorcycle... I want another motorcycle. I want to go to Israel. I want someone to kiss. I want to feel. Everything.

And then I remind myself: be careful of what you want.

I want to live, by G-d, loudly. So you can't get me to swear to this grand theory when I'm weeping my eyes out, feeling the low after the intense high. That doesn't mean I don't mean it. It means I'm busy wailing and mourning. DND, BRB.

You know, good shit often hurts when it's gone. That's just how it works. Like love. Like skin.

I want to heal. I want to feel. I am obsessing over not obsessing. Not so much in a corkscrew spiral downward. Maybe in a gearing up to spring?

Spring, new, rebirth. I hate myself again for crashing my bike. I was waiting so long all winter for good weather, warmer weather.

I wait, I wait. And my insistence on Now brings it crashing to a halt. I need to slow down. Even further than before. Slow. Way. Down. Change direction. Is this me telling myself to chill? A voice from the other side of the room that is still just me: There is love out there. There is language in there. Just wait.

Great. I do need practice in waiting.